I love how every generation loves to blame younger ones for not quite being up to snuff. It has been a social sport since at least ancient Rome so I don’t expect it to change any time soon. I’m already playing, and I expect many years of enjoyment ahead of me.
The natural consequence of this sport is that whenever I tell anyone my age or older that I am a Bankruptcy lawyer, I get treated to the lecture about how we shouldn’t be letting these 20 and 30 somethings go around charging every toy they want and then filing for bankruptcy. My response is not generally regarded as polite cocktail party small talk.
So, here are a few facts for you. According to a study done at the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (and who better to know), Americans over 55 are filing bankruptcy at a far faster rate than the general population. The culprits are mortgage and health care costs. In 1994 only 27% of all bankruptcy filers were over the age of 45. In 2002 that percentage increased to 39%. This is in stark contrast to filers under the age of 25. Only 4% of all American adults under the age of 25 filed for bankruptcy in 2002. That was down from 11% of that age group in 1999. So, the twenty-somethings are filing at less than half the rate that they were in the ’90’s; and the Boomers are filing at basically 1.5 times the rate they were in the ’90’s.
These findings are consistent with what I see in my practice. I have far more senior citizens who racked up their credit card debt in pharmacies then I do people under 35. By the upper 30’s the numbers start to pick up, but I am 42 and in the last year of the Baby Boom. Easily most of my clients are older than I am.
If you want to read the full report, “Aging and Bankruptcy: The Baby Boomers Meet UP at Bankruptcy Court”, it was supposed to be in the May, 2007 issue of the ABI Journal.